Supervolcano Campi Flegrei activity hints at future major eruption

A large, active supervolcano near Naples, Italy, may be transitioning into a pre-eruption state, according to a new study. Called Campi Flegrei, this supervolcano has a colorful history, having produced a super-colossal eruption about 40,000 years ago. The location's most recent eruption was in 1538, though it was far less substantial in size. A new study has found that the supervolcano may be once again accumulating magma.

There's no signs of any sort of immediate danger to the approximately 1.5 million people living near the supervolcano. However, a study recently published in Science Advances has found evidence of a new caldera cycle for Campi Flegrei, indicating that it has begun the process of building up for its next big event.

Campi Flegrei has experienced both massive and, relatively speaking, minor eruptions over the past 60,000 years. A new massive eruption would bring devastation to the highly populated region. According to the study, there's evidence that the volcanic region has entered a new build-up phase that'll eventually lead to such a scenario.

This anticipated "large volume eruption" could happen "at some undetermined point in the future," according to the paper. The event would likely be substantially greater than the Monte Nuovo eruption of 1538, which lasted for eight days and resulted in a new mountain.

Scientists say the volcano previously experienced massive eruptions starting around 39,000 years ago: one is called the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption and the other is called the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff eruption. The first of the two massive eruptions dispersed ash across nearly one-and-a-half million square miles.

The composition of magma from the Monte Nuovo eruption indicates that the event was something of an outburst that happened as part of the volcano's gradual buildup to yet another massive eruption. No one knows when this speculated event may happen, though, and humanity could still be hundreds or thousands of years away from having to deal with the consequences of it.